Books

I Was Poisoned by Arnold Lobel's Children's Fable, 'Frog and Toad'

Leo Warner

Lobel could have done his little gay readers an immeasurable and un-parallelled service. Instead, he set us up for perpetual disappointment.


The Frog and Toad Collection

Publisher: HarperCollins
Author: Arnold Lobel
Publication date: 2004-05
Amazon

Everyone applauds Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books for covertly introducing children to the idea of long-term gay love. (Well, almost everyone.) And yes, on one level, the bond between Frog and Toad is touching and inspiring.

These creatures cook for each other, make special gifts, tell each other stories, act as bedside nurses, write kind letters to each other, and do a million other small, nice, thoughtful things. Just like we're taught to do. And then we grow up.

Have you ever wondered why so many gay men are perpetually single? Has it never occurred to anyone that the reason we're romantically frustrated is because we've been poisoned by the unrealistic expectations we developed while reading Frog and Toad?

I've dated an array of guys, and not one has been half as selfless and gentle as Frog. And here I am hopping around, imagining that the love between Frog and Toad is some kind of norm between men, and that anything less perfect and harmonious would be just... sad.

And so: thanks, Lobel, for tainting my thoughts and setting me up for permanent failure. Thank you for ruining my shot at happiness.

I think even children should get a dose of reality in their fiction. Indeed, readers of Frog and Toad should all get to see some of the behind-the-scenes tension that surely animates the domestic life of these two seemingly cheery amphibians. Where's the scene in which Frog tells Toad that he'd like to experiment with a "polyamorous" lifestyle and that he, Toad, ought simply to accept this sad news and keep the home fire burning?

Where's the scene in which Toad tells Frog he hates Frog's Old Navy khaki pants from Old Navy, even though the pants are perfectly fine, and anyway, these two hardly know each other....it's only their second date...and what kind of creature says something so gratuitously nasty to another creature on a second date? What kind, indeed?

Where's the scene in which Toad stumbles across nude selfies on Frog's computer, and Frog lies and says he just wanted a few genital pics to use as autoerotic stimuli during his upcoming trip to Italy. Then later Frog admits that the photos are actually meant as a tool for initiating cybersex with strangers on the aforementioned trip to Italy.

And where's the part where Frog comes out to Turtle, who is both his ex-girlfriend and his closest buddy, and Turtle scowls and says, "Gross. You're really going to stick that thing up another dude's butt?

And how about the scene in which Toad's mentally unstable father goes mute for five years because he cannot (will not) accept Toad's "choice of lifestyle"?

Where's the back story, as when Frog and Toad haven't met yet, they're just e-mailing each other and though their level of acquaintance is so low that they have not even spoken on the phone or shared a quick coffee break, Frog still feels compelled to write, "I'm a bottom. We don't have to fuck on the first date. We could go slow--like, making-out on Date Two and full-scale intercourse on Date Three. Does that work for you?"

If Lobel had dared to tell just a pinch of The Sordid Truth, he would have done his little gay readers an immeasurable and un-parallelled service. He would have helped them toughen up in preparation for real gay dating life.

Instead, he gave us a series of silly, slippery self-delusional little fairy tales.

Come to think of it, maybe Frog and Toad is rather like real life…

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image